The WBBL got off to a cracking start with an act of individual brilliance showing why a change to the tournament was well overdue.
The seventh edition of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) has got off to a cracking start following a stunning piece of individual brilliance by one of the tournament’s new imports.
The Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Stars faced off in the opening match of the WBBL in Hobart on Thursday night.
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Heavy rain at Blundstone Arena delayed the start before the weather eventually relented, with both teams allowed to bat for 11 overs each in a shortened game.
The Stars got off to an absolute flyer thanks to veteran Elise Vilani’s power hitting until a sensational piece of fielding broke their opening partnership.
Annabel Sutherland slapped a bouncer from Sixers captain Ellyse Perry straight to Shafali Verma.
The ball bounced up perfectly for the Indian star, who with only one stump to aim at, unleashed a rocket of a throw that hit the stumps on the full and sent the bails flying and Sutherland on her way back to the pavilion.
Verma was immediately congratulated for her incredible direct hit run out by Perry, who embraced her in a sight rarely seen in cricket.
Just last week, Verma and Perry had been squaring off in the multi-format series between Australia and India.
But it’s the first time in WBBL history Indian players have featured in the tournament due to previous scheduling clashes and the BCCI’s reluctance for India’s best players to compete in Australia’s domestic competition.
Incredibly, fielding is not a particular strength for Verma, who is better known for her explosive batting at the top of the order for India.
Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player, male or female, to represent India in all three formats of the game.
Pundits and cricket fans were stunned by Verma’s athletic run-out but equally delighted to see her playing in the WBBL alongside members of Australia’s team.
“I’m sure all the Indian fans are going, ‘Why hasn’t she done this in Indian colours for us?’,” former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar said in commentary.
“First opportunity in the magenta and (she) affects a run out and the Sydney Sixers are able to pick up their first wicket due to some really good fielding.”
The Stars scored 99 off their 11 overs, largely thanks to Vilani’s knock of 54 not out as she carried on her stellar form from the last couple of tournaments.
Chasing 100 to win, Verma joined Aussie superstar Alyssa Healy at the top of the order for the Sixers.
But the Indian couldn’t repeat her heroics with the bat, getting clean bowled for eight by Sutherland, who exacted revenge.
Healy was in superb touch for the Sixers, smacking 57 runs off 27 balls to make the run chase manageable for the magenta team, which reached the required target with four balls to spare to get its WBBL campaign off to the perfect start.
Originally published as Shafali Verma’s insane run-out for Sydney Sixers gets WBBL off to cracking start